Amy Bowen, a songwriter known professionally as Lizza Connor, insisted Paisley and his co-writers on the tune, Chris DuBois and Kelley Lovelace, lifted several elements of “Remind Me” off her song of the same name. She performed her own “Remind Me” during a 2008 songwriters workshop helmed by a panel of established writers that included Lovelace. She claims that she was told during that workshop that the song would work well as a duet. Three years later, Paisley and Underwood released their own “Remind Me” duet, topping the charts and selling more than two million copies of the song.
Bowen received the first victory in 2013 when a judge agreed she had a strong enough case to go to trial. As printed by the Hollywood Reporter, Judge Aleta Trauger listed four valid arguments: “The phrase ‘Remind me’ is often followed by the partner phrase ‘Baby, remind me,’ which essentially echoes the hook; the hooks are repeated in close proximity and with similar intonation — higher the second time than the first; the hooks rise in pitch from ‘re-‘ to ‘-mind’ and descend in pitch from ‘re-‘ to ‘-mind,’; and the syllable ‘re-‘ crosses two tones and the syllable ‘-me’ crosses at least three tones.”
Bowen enlisted musicologist Judith Finell to help her case. Finell famously testified on behalf of Marvin Gaye’s family in the copyright infringement case against Pharrell and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” After months of legal battles in that case, Gaye’s family was awarded more than $7 million.
Bowen, who was seeking $10 million, wasn’t so lucky. On Thursday, August 26th, the same judge in her initial filing ruled in favor of Paisley, Underwood, Lovelace and DuBois, along with Paisley’s producer Frank Rogers, Sony Music, EMI Music and Paisley’s own label, Sea Gayle Music — all defendants in the case. Her ruling reasoned that the repetition of the phrase “remind me” during the Paisley-Underwood song was coincidental, and that the melody shifts weren’t similar enough to cry foul. She also notes “broader dissimilarities in context, structure, mood, melody, and harmony,” along with the fact that Bowen’s song is more about heartbreak while Paisley’s is about reigniting a relationship’s spark. [Read the full ruling here.]
Paisley poked fun at the lawsuit in a song on his 2014 album, Moonshine in the Trunk. The sardonic “High Life” is about a family of litigious freeloaders.
“I heard a song a couple months ago / It was Carrie Underwood on the radio,” he sings. “Reminded me of a poem my brother wrote / Back in the second grade / Now I know she didn’t steal it, but so what? / We lawyered up and we sued her butt / These days we figure we’d pretty much / Get paid to go away.”